Catastrophic antiphospholipid antibody syndrome (CAPS) and macrophage activation syndrome (MAS) are both life-threatening hematologic disorders that infrequently afflict patients with rheumatologic disease. CAPS is characterized by fulminant multiorgan damage related to small vessel thrombosis in the setting of persistent antiphospholipid antibodies. It can occur in patients with rheumatologic diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus but can also affect patients who do not have rheumatologic disease. By contrast, the term MAS is applied when patients with rheumatologic disease develop hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH); therefore, patients with MAS have an underlying rheumatologic disease by definition. Similar to CAPS, HLH/MAS can have a fulminant presentation, but the pathogenesis and manifestations are different. In both CAPS and MAS, management generally includes but is not limited to immunosuppression with steroids. Fatalities are relatively common and morbidity is often significant. Early recognition of these disorders and initiation of timely treatment are important. More effective therapies for both syndromes are urgently needed.